Holiday events planning already in full gear in Sulphur Springs
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Nov. 17, 2006 - To borrow from an old song, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

And if the Downtown Business Alliance, Hopkins County Historical Society and the Lions Club have their way, Sulphur Springs and especially the downtown area, will not only be progressively more so over the course of the next few weeks but will also mirror an old-fashioned Christmas.

A host of local businesses and organizations have a multitude of activities slated beginning this weekend and continuing through Christmas that are guaranteed to spruce up the area, ring with song and add a dash of holiday cheer and goodwill to your walk.

Some organizations have already been holding sign-ups for gift and food assistance, and food and toy drives. A special "open house" was held Thursday evening at a number of downtown businesses, offering extended hours and holiday cheer to help kick off the season.

Coming up next will be the decorating of the downtown square. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, individuals from local churches and organizations will join members of Sulphur Springs Downtown Business Alliance in decorating the square, putting up Christmas lights and decorations not only around the courthouse but at several businesses in the downtown area as well.

This year they are working with several other organizations to host events which bring back the tradition and hometown holiday feel of days gone by to Sulphur Springs. SSDBA is encouraging anyone interested in donating a little time and labor to help decorate the area to help out. For more information or to organize or notify SSBDA of other holiday events, contact Vickie Lee at 903-438-9555.

On Saturday, Nov. 25, and Friday, Dec. 1, Hopkins County Historical Society will be hosting its annual Christmas In The Park. The historical buildings at Heritage Park, located at 416 North Jackson St., will shine with the multitude of light displays along with live music, old fashioned apple cider, hot cocoa, cookies and other goodies.

Christmas In The Park is a sight to behold and fun family outing the kids won't want to miss. Word has it Santa might even be dropping by for a special visit during the festivities, which begin at 5:30 p.m. and conclude at 8 p.m. both nights.

There will even be a Christmas Store where Christmas goodies can be obtained. There will also be door prizes, and of course, no Christmas town is complete without a nativity scene — a live one, in this case.

To help offset costs of maintaining the park, Historical Society members are asking adults and youth ages 12 and up to pay a $2 fee. Children 11 and under will be admitted free.

A special display will also go up behind the courthouse Saturday after Thanksgiving, offering children a peek into Santa's castle, constructed by a local craftsman.

City and county workers are slated to put up the large wreaths and lights on Nov. 28 to keep the holiday atmosphere fresh just in time for Christmas on the Square.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, the Christmas tree and downtown square will glow with cheer as the special tree dedicated to men and women in the U.S. armed forces is lit, along with all of the holiday lights.

Anyone who has a loved one or friend in service is encouraged to provide a decoration with that person's name to help honor or remember them.

A local pastor will also tell a special Christmas story for children, who will also enjoy a live nativity scene during Christmas on the Square. Some of the children will even get in on the action, as some Sulphur Springs students in  third through fifth grades are scheduled to sing on the square Dec. 1. Santa will also be visiting area children.

Candles are also scheduled to line the path to Heritage Park Dec. 1, and free trolley rides are available from the square to the park and back.

Several shops and eateries in the downtown area will also be open late for holiday shopper, a quick snack or supper.

Then on Saturday, Dec. 2, will be the annual Lions Club Christmas Parade, which departs from Buford City Park at 10 a.m., following the traditional parade route past Heritage Square, where Christmas on the Square will begin as soon as the parade disburses.

Christmas on the Square, sponsored by the Downtown Business Alliance, will include train and carriage rides, arts and crafts, bed races, courthouse tours, performances, a children’s art show, food, shopping and more.

At 3 p.m. Dec. 2 on the downtown square, North East Texas Choral Society will perform a selection of Christmas music, offering a hint of the many numbers to be performed at 7 p.m. that night and again at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec., 3, during their annual Christmas concert at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center.

On Thursday, Dec. 7, the Lights of Life Tree Lighting Ceremony begins at 6 p.m. in front of Hopkins County Memorial Hospital for the general public. Then, on Friday, Dec. 8, will be the Lights of Life Gala beginning at 7 p.m. at The Lodge.

�The Reason for the Season� Christmas show to benefit the Empty Stocking and Blue Santa programs will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Civic Center, an SSDBA member said.

Dozens of churches and other organizations are also expected to schedule holiday programs between now and Christmas, including traditional Christmas Eve services and candlelight services.

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